“Eco-Atkins” plant-based, low-carbohydrate diets-might not only lower weight but also lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol and elevate HDL-C, a one-month study suggests.
The study investigated 44 overweight men and women with hyperlipidaemia who were randomised to the low-carb “eco-Atkins” diet or to a lacto-ovo vegetarian version of the DASH diet.
While individuals in both groups lost a “fairly dramatic” 4 kg, those following the “eco-Atkins” diet had a greater decrease in LDL-C. The study message is:”Use more plant foods to lower LDL-C-whether it is oils, proteins, carbohydrates, or fiber”.
“We conclude that low-carbohydrate diets emphasising vegetable sources of protein, such as gluten, soy, and nuts, together with vegetable oils, can be used in weight-reduction diets to improve serum lipid concentrations,” the researchers write.
The dietary dilemma is choosing the optimal proportion of fat, protein, and carbohydrate for weight loss plus cholesterol-lowering can be a dilemma.
A low-carb, high-meat diet-such as the Atkins diet-can induce weight loss, lower triglycerides, and raise HDL-C levels, but it also tends to increase LDL-C levels. On the other hand, a high-carb, low-animal-product diet lowers cardiovascular and pathological ageing risk factors.
To determine weight loss and the effect on serum lipid concentrations from a low-carb diet where plant sources replace animal-based proteins and fats, the researchers compared the “eco-Atkins” diet with a control diet.
The “eco-Atkins” diet replaces meat, eggs, and butter with plant-based nutrients, which makes it more ecologically friendly in terms of the use of land resources and the cost of agriculture.
This test diet provided the minimum level of carbs recommended by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine-130 g/day-by eliminating starch-based bread, rice, and potatoes but including high-fiber oat-bran cereal and vegetables such as okra and egg plant. Protein sources included nut bread and tofu. Fats included olive oil, nuts, and avocados.
The researchers compared this with a positive control diet that would be expected to benefit heart health. The control diet extended the DASH diet in that it allowed low-fat dairy products, egg substitutes, and whole-grain products but eliminated rather than reduced meat consumption.
The researchers studied 44 overweight men and women with hyperlipidaemia. The subjects were randomised to the test diet-27% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 43% fat-or control diet-58% carbohydrates, 17% protein, and 25% fat. All diets were designed to provide 60% of estimated calorie requirements. Prepared diet foods were shipped to the subjects.
Weight loss was similar in both groups. However, those in the low-carb, plant-based diet group had greater reductions in LDL-C levels and in the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL-C. They also had more beneficial changes in apolipoprotein levels and small but significantly greater changes in blood pressure.